Archive for Month: March 2012

Competition videos

Thank to mentor John, we have videos of many of the matches. I’ve posted them on YouTube. Here they are:

FRC Wrapup

I wish I had written this last Saturday, when it was all fresh in my mind, but I’m hoping that the enthusiasm of the day will carry forward into this account.

For those who weren’t there on Saturday, Team 4180 — The RoboRiders — was monstrously successful, and it was a blast!

We were 4-7-0 in matches and finished 33 / 45 in our division. We scored basket points, balancing points, and cooperation points and competed in all 11 of our scheduled matches. Many FIRST people told me that that last fact alone is an awesome accomplishment for a rookie team.

In addition, we are intensely proud of Team 4180, in no small part because this was truly a team effort. Over the course of the three days, I saw a very dedicated, very focused, very excited group of engineers really pulling together and operating as a unit. I often just stood back and watched the work unfolding.

A frenzy of repairs, strategy, talking, helping, cooperation, and learning. And then time for another match and to roll the robot out of the pit and over to the field.


In addition, one thing I noticed about a lot of the bigger, more experienced, and better financed teams was that they had beautifully outfitted pits, well-designed, very fancy carts, awesome outfits and marketing materials, and of course impressive robots. But many times as you looked in their pit, you saw a lot of mentors doing a lot of the work with not so many students in evidence. We can say with great certainty that our student team definitely did all of this themselves. Mentors and coaches helped, supported, guided, and pitched in, but never took over. That is worth many bonus points in my book.

Thanks to all the family and friends and Mr. Vance who came out to support us on Saturday. I wish I had been better about documenting the days in photos, but it was pretty all-consuming just being there. I hope we can collect good photos from lots of our visitors and assemble an album.

Your coaches and mentors graciously congratulate all of you on the success of Team 4180!

We’re already looking forward to next year.

FRC Day 2 – Qualification Matches

Today was day 2 of the FIRST Robotics Competition for Team 4180.

Robbie competed in all 8 of his scheduled matches today and the RoboRiders had several successes in a day to be very proud of.

First, many judges and FIRST people told me that for that accomplishment alone — just having a working robot out on the field at every match — a rookie team should be very proud of its accomplishments. Some never even get to that point, there are so many things that can go wrong.

But beyond just running, Team 4180’s robot actually scored points!

Our robot deposited at least two balls in baskets with its dunking elevator mechanism under control of drivers Alex and Ben. (Were there more than two? I don’t think I saw every match…) And in a large point bonus, it balanced on a bridge while sharing the bridge with an alliance robot in one match. One judge told me that there are veteran teams that didn’t accomplish either of those feats on the first day, so this is pretty cool.

For some riveting footage of the 2:15 bridge balancing match, check out this YouTube video: RoboRiders FRC 4180 Balance.

(Sorry for the shaky video, but John and I got kind of excited watching while filming.)

Keep your eye on blue robot 4180 at the rear. You’ll see a dunking attempt thwarted by an aggressive red opponent and then a gut-wrenching structural failure of the elevator. Then comes the bridge attempt, followed by a beautiful cooperative move with a blue partner that leads to the dramatic balancing act at the end!

Other highlights of the day were some fine scouting and strategic planning with alliance partners by Jack, heroic repair and mechanical work by Ben and Adrian, great software stewardship by Alex, Jordan’s steady behind-the-scene support, and Jorit’s ready inbounding and robot stewardship. And, as always, ample able mentorship by John and Owen.

Thanks also to parents and colleagues who stopped by to lend support.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the action continues. Opening ceremonies are at 9:00 and there are more qualification matches for the RoboRiders in the morning. We may make it into the afternoon finals, depending on how the morning goes. Closing ceremonies are at 5-ish.

The scene and atmosphere in the arena are really unbelievable. It has all the energy and then some of a sports pep rally and game. While this competition seems to be all about robots, it’s not really. That’s just the surface level of what is going on at FIRST. It’s about the students, teamwork, cooperation, and what FIRST calls “gracious professionalism.”

Larger teams have lots of students there just to lend team support, even if they aren’t actually working on the robot. They sport all kinds of great outfits and costumes and everyone is having a great time. You can just tell.

One of my favorite moments was in between matches out on the field and in the stands. I wish I hadn’t filled up my camera already and could have captured it. I think there were some technical difficulties with the field and they were stalling for time. The MC put on a string of dance tunes, from the “Macarena” to “Y.M.C.A.” to a similar current pop tune that I can’t remember the name of. A zillion kids and even some judges all started dancing to it, and most of the people in the stands joined in. It was adorable and infectious good spirit.

At the opening ceremony in the morning, one team sang the National Anthem and I realized how very spoiled we are at Roosevelt by all the fantastic vocal talent in evidence in the singing at our assemblies. Let’s just say that this team had great enthusiasm in its rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I didn’t hear too much cheering at the high notes the way you do in the RHS gym, though.

That’s all for now. The RoboRiders hope to see you at CenturyLink Event Center tomorrow! We guarantee a good time.


– Coach Davidson

Robbie Runs !

After a very long day of intensive work by Jordan, Adrian, Ben, and Alex, the RoboRiders creation “Robbie” passed his inspection and was certified to compete. This may sound rather perfunctory, but for a rookie team, it is anything but that!

Robbie (#4180) then made his appearance on the competition court for a practice round, with drivers Alex & Ben operating him remotely.
Tomorrow will be a long day of many rounds of competition for testing and seed positions.